Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Dart’s data--the Olympics issue

In the July issue of Direct Commerce, which hit desks last week, our cover story focused on what online retailers are doing in order to profit from a summer of sport including the Olympics, this week’s edition of Dart’s Data takes a look at some recent reports that cover the effects of this summer’s Olympics on merchants.

EPoS and ecommerce services provider Cybertill surveyed around 600 of its customers nationwide, and discovered that more than half (54 percent) said the Olympics would have little or no effect on their business. Just 19 percent said the Games would increase sales, of which most were based in the London area or sold sporting goods.

In contrast, however, a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) concluded that the Olympics could provide a much-needed boost to employer confidence as a quarter of UK bosses say they think the games will be good for their businesses with only four percent predicting a negative impact on their bottom line. What’s more 63 percent said they planned to increase the number of permanent employees over the next three months.

But Conlumino’s Illuminating Retail study gives food for thought with the suggestion that much of the potential benefits and sales uplift attributed to the Olympics could be offset by higher costs due to retailers having to fund more staff, a greater number of deliveries and, potentially, longer working hours during the period of the Games.

Clearly, the Olympics are expected to deliver some benefits but the idea that the Olympics will be a saviour to the retail sector and reverse its fortunes are quite wide of the mark.--JD

Friday, 6 July 2012

Cross-Atlantic catch-up

We’re more than half-way through 2012, so we thought we take this opportunity to pause and reflect on the past six months and take a look back at the five most popular Cross-Atlantic Insight articles of 2012 so far--as measured by click-throughs.

And if you’ve not heard of Cross-Atlantic Insight before, here’s a taste of what you’ve been missing...

What you need to know about the ePrivacy Directive
In a nutshell: What UK businesses should do to comply with new cookie regulations

Going global with multilingual search engine marketing
In a nutshell: For online businesses with the right strategy, attracting trade from foreign markets need not be as hard as it seems

Seven steps to getting cross-border VAT right
In a nutshell: To avoid possible fines and penalties when trading cross-border, it is important to be aware of and comply with relevant VAT obligations

European online retail market larger than the US
In a nutshell: European online spending is set to see double-digit growth, once again outpacing its US counterpart.

Five key markets
In a nutshell: predicting hotspots for business growth in 2012

Cross-Atlantic Insight is a fortnightly enewsletter delivering international news and tactical articles. To sign up to recieve your free copy, click here.--MT

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Email idea to steal: user-generated copy

Nearly every online shop now collects user reviews from satisfied, and sometimes not so satisfied, customers. Once the reviews are published on the site, what then?

Cashmere apparel cataloguer Brora has great idea for using online reviews to keep in touch with its customers by email. The “Brora Customer Favourites” email featured 10 items from the Brora collection that have attracted glowing references from customers. And it’s an easy idea to steal. Simply select a few of your best-selling items, or the ones with the best reviews—the copy has been written for you. --MT

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

June Catalogue Log

It’s a Catalogue Log first; we received the same number of catalogues in June 2012 as we did in June 2011. There were more similarities between the two months; not least that June is firmly establishing itself as the sales month of choice among cataloguers. 

Offers promoted on catalogue covers
In June 2011 we noted that 59.3 percent of the catalogues we received promoted a sale or discount on the cover, the highest percentage recorded in 2011. Last month we tallied 46 catalogues, or 56.8 percent, promoting a sale—making it the most sales-driven month of the year so far.

Of the 81 cataloguers we received last month, only 26 featured no offer whatsoever on the cover. Of those 26, there were several that sent promotional carrier sheets or included loose inserts to make up for it. Take, for instance, gifts catalogue Nauticalia, which included a flyer for free delivery on orders of £80 and featured cut-price gift ideas on its order form on page 63. Business-to-business catalogue Action Storage hid its free p&p offer on the inside front cover, while homewares brand Cologne & Cotton offered us 15 percent off and free UK delivery on a voucher included with the main catalogue.

The remaining 55 catalogues went all-out to squeeze an order from recipients. The most popular method was using a sale or discount. As mentioned above, 56.8 percent of catalogue covers in June touted a price-based promotion. Among them were Garden Trading (15 percent off), Graham & Green (10 percent off) and Sweaty Betty (up to 50 percent off).

In distant second place was the offer of free delivery, promoted on just 15 catalogue covers. Often it was teamed with another offer; Woolovers, for example, promoted free delivery and 5 percent off a first order. At Tulchan, customers could shop its “up to 60 percent off sale” and take advantage of free delivery. Hotter Shoes made a similar offer: 20 percent off a first order plus free delivery.

June Comparison Chart
It’s worth noting that free shipping was much more popular this year, offered on 18.5 percent of all catalogue covers last month compared with 12.3 percent in June 2011. Is this a sign that catalogues have become more aggressively promotional in order to compete? According to the Catalogue Log, which has been tracking the offers touted on catalogue covers each month since 2009, it appears to be the case. We’ve tracked an overall June-on-June increase in the percentage of catalogues featuring some sort of offer on the cover rise from 60 percent in June 2010, to 64.1 percent last year to 67.9 percent in June 2012.

I was at a conference recently where I was told older consumers responded well to free delivery offers, while the younger generation preferred receiving a free gift with purchase. I’ve consistently found little to support this argument when compiling the Catalogue Log. Most of the catalogues we tracked offering a free gift—a mere 9 titles in June 2012—were aimed at the grey market like Coopers of Stortford and Witt or at business buyers, like 4imprint. All in all, it appears June is not the month for touting a freebie; free gifts were promoted on 11.1 percent of the covers we logged. Although, that’s the second-highest percentage of 2012 and slightly higher than last year’s 9.8 percent, it’s lower than 2010’s 12.8 percent, and lags significantly behind the 17.8 percent we logged in June 2009.—MT

Monday, 2 July 2012

TV Shopping Week's most wanted

Launched in January 2012, DC's TV Shopping Week is a free fortnightly enewsletter from the editor of Direct Commerce delivering news, insight and strategic advice on all aspects of TV selling. Curious to know what you've missed in the year to date? Catch up here with the five most popular articles with newsletter subscribers.

1. CatEx unveils TV shopping channel—trade body CatEx DCA and The Specialist Works partner to launch a new TV shopping proposition

2. Successful launch of The Dept Store—catching up with The Department Store after it goes live

3. Thinking of embarking on a TV-shopping venture?—Ideal Shopping Direct’s Mike Hancox has the following advice

4. TV shopping insider with JML’s Ken Daly—we interview JML’s new chief executive about his day-to-day challenges and vision for the future

5. eBay unveils first TV ad campaign since 2007—the online marketplace launches its first TV advertising campaign since 2007 showcasing its top-selling new products.

To add yourself to the list to receive the next edition, click here.--MT